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"...think of the cash in Breaking Bad, but all legal and no one dies..." A short story about one of Montana's most successful startups

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May 6, 2016View for printing

Twelve years ago I was flat broke. Raising two little kids. About to lose my house.

A friend texted me one evening asking about how to connect an image scanner to a network. I responded with a text saying I had no clue, but if he figured it out I would market whatever he wrote. That was our business plan, a 50/50 split of what we thought would probably be nothing. In the next few weeks my friend wrote some software and then I got to work marketing. Used photos of my two kids for the first screen shot.

I had a budget of just $34, and with it I registered a web site and set up some google ads. Then I started writing and sending email about the software -- drop dead boring industrial, so boring in fact I dont think I ever really ever used the thing -- around the clock as well as cold calling, building web pages and figuring out the new world of web analytics.

Everything was done on ancient piece of junk computers. Nothing new or high end. We each worked out of our bedrooms for a few years.

Then, seven years after the text-sentence business plan, and the splitting millions of dollars of pure profit (think of the cash in Breaking Bad, but all legal and no one dies), RemoteScan was acquired by a software giant (now Dell) for many millions more. Exactly five years ago today. Cinco De Mayo. I had a shot of tequila and a long sigh....

In these past five years many lives have been changed by what started with a few text messages. Sometimes now I get asked about start ups and how to become an entrepreneur. I make sure to say that money is not what it takes to start. It really takes a combination of these hard things: being desperate, being willing to learn and re-learn many new things, being willing to give up 120% of your free time, and it also helps finding someone who can match what you do, hour for hour, year after year. Much thanks Glenn Kreisel. Lets get a shot of tequila again soon.

By Steve Saroff

Cynical and Jaded


I've had the pleasure of knowing Steve and Glenn since soon after I first came to Montana about 20 years ago. In fact, they were the catalyst that got me to start MATR. I can't tell you how much they've brought to the Montana entrepreneurial community not only through their innovation and leadership but through their love for this state. I'm sure they enjoyed a bottle of Petron last night in celebration of their success with Remote Scan. I just can't wait to see what they'll accomplish next.

Reader Comments:

Great post. Very inspiring. Gives me hope.



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